By Sunday Onyemaechi Eze

Nigeria is a blessed nation under the siege of mercantilist leaders. They assume office with nothing but leave richer than their states. Regrettably, our chalice of understanding and good reasoning has been poisoned by ethnic based politics when electing leaders. The prevailing hardship and suffering in the country is a convergence of greed, corruption and leadership failure. However, Nigerians deserve the worst they get from those they chose as their leaders. They are aware of the consequences of their electoral choices but willfully failed to make a difference every time at the polls. Nonetheless, Nigeria is our country and we have no other. Yes, she deserves citizens’ loyalty, support, patriotism, meaningful contributions to nation building, honour and respect even in dire economic situation like this one on our hands. While fulfilling the above obligations, citizens should not fail to hold government to account. Every citizen cannot but hope for a better and prosperous nation where justice, equity and fairness prevail. Where the above is obtainable, no citizen in his or her right frame of mind would antagonise his nation or pray for its downfall. However, Nigeria as a country has monumentally failed to adequately play her role to earn citizens’ respect. Government should note that good governance ultimately gives rise to automatic citizens’ loyalty and patriotism.

How did we get here? It must be re-emphasised that the present crop of leaders is the architect of our national woes. Political offices are sold to the highest bidder. Most of them have rigged themselves into power and positions which they were/are never qualified to occupy. Embezzlement of public funds meant for critical infrastructures is the order of the day. Only a few has been made to bear the consequences of their reckless actions. We remain a stagnant nation on account of policies of government not driven in the interest of the people. Rather, they are designed to satisfy the avarice of a group of people within the corridors of power. Most Nigerian politicians are above the law. The institutions of governance are weak and largely compromised. This ultimately renders the law itself ineffective. The effect of this anomaly and insensitivity to good governance has resulted to the untold hardship Nigerians are subjected to right now.

Majority of Nigerian leaders are simply dispensers of hope and motivational speakers. The very unpatriotic who always preach what they have failed to do and will never do. Pretenders take up new garbs of patriotism once they are occupying public offices forgetting the faulty lines that brought them to power while running a semblance of democracy. Nations gain the respect and admiration of her citizens when government positively touches the lives of citizens through people oriented projects and policies. What respect does one expect citizens to accord a nation which carelessly announced economic policies resulting to galloping inflation, free-fall of the Naira and exponential increase in high cost of living? What respect and honour do you accord a nation where security of lives and property is treated with levity? What respect do you accord a nation where professors assist politicians to rig elections and still blame their partners in crime for poor remuneration and good governance? Have you taken a critical look at how judges made a mess of the judiciary with their recent cash and carry judgments?

When a country was deliberately wired to fail and leaders choose to serve as its undertakers with nepotism and corruption like the one institutionalised during Buhari’s era and currently perfected by Tinubu, what do you expect? Since you and I were born, we have been hearing repeatedly that Nigeria will be better. What has changed? Anyways, someone has opined that, if they tell you that Nigeria will be better, ask them when? The right answers to Nigerian problems can ordinarily be solved with sincerity, accountability and excellent leadership. It is a waste of time striving to motivate or give false hope to hungry, hopeless people and gullibly dwell in prayers for Nigeria to succeed. These are wrong approaches to resolving practical national problems. They can hardly work and it never worked anywhere in the world. Studies on how other nations pulled through periods of grave difficulties should be undertaken by those in government. Nigeria as a country has not shown sufficient determination to make a difference in leadership style. An average Nigerian does not think his country has treated him fairly. There is no consensus regarding peoples’ views on competence and leadership. Trust deficit between the leaders and the led is rife. How leaders came on board, how they manage our fault lines and diversity is contentious national discourse.

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Suffering, unfortunately in the face of abundance has become the order of the day in the country. Many nations will cease to remain in one piece if they go through the level of hardship and the ugly leadership’ experience Nigerians have been faced with since 2010. Bandits and kidnappers have taken over ungoverned spaces in the country resulting to major security crisis. People are living in fear, have been slaughtered on a daily basis while what government could only do is to issues statements without concrete action to salvage the situation. This is happening under governments whose major responsibility is security of lives and property of the citizens.

Offering ridiculous palliative measures, hope, fake promises for better days ahead and admonition to be patient are lazy approaches or citizens’ reward from government towards resolving teething national crisis. Let those in position of authority who feel they are insulated from the shock occasioned by the hash economic reality on ground be told that, the broken, non-functional social system will find and expose them to danger if something urgent is not done to stem the ugly tide. Raising false accusations, intimidating and manipulating the citizens against critics who are critical of the critical situation or attempting to gaslight them for being unpatriotic will fail.

The bulk of efforts aimed at redeeming Nigeria stops at the table of political leaders, legislators, ministers, governors – nay Tinubu. It is only when they have sufficiently and sincerely played their part that they can now turn to citizens for loyalty. The sky is very dark and cloudy as well. There is uncertainty, hunger and angst everywhere. Nigeria is rich and citizens deserve better than what government offers. People are tired of bad governance and the antics of politicians. Obviously, Nigeria is in distress and slowly sliding into anarchy. It is the responsibility of government to take the right steps, make right decisions and put right economic measures in place for the good of the people.

•Eze writes via [email protected]